Player Spotlight: Marcus Allen
Every team needs a personality. Penn State’s is Marcus Allen.
Allen can be seen leading the team’s elaborate celebrations after pivotal wins. Fun is at the forefront of Penn State football recently.
“As long as we’re having fun, that's going to have a big impact on the team,” Allen said. “When everybody is having fun and everything's energetic, it brings more excitement to the game.”
However, the junior safety's jovial personality isn’t the extent of his contribution to the team. He is also the rock of the secondary and one of the defense’s leading tacklers.
When the team was plagued with injuries coming out of the Michigan loss, Allen proved his worth.
In a close battle against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Linebacker U was missing its two best in Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell. The Gophers had little trouble getting past the tenderfoot linebacking core. But their efforts couldn’t get them past Allen.
The safety racked up 22 tackles and led the defense to an overtime victory to salvage the Nittany Lions season. Those 22 tackles were the most by any Penn State defender. Ever.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard him having 22 tackles,” said teammate Grant Haley after the game, “and that’s crazy.”
And to think he was almost a Pittsburgh Panther.
The Maryland native was coaxed by Penn State’s cross state rival. Allen had an impressive high school career in Upper Marlboro, MD. The 4-star recruit was highly sought after despite a season ending ankle injury in his senior year.
The Panthers were on the prowl. Allen’s godfather, Curtis Martin, was one of the best running backs in Pitt’s history and went on to become a Hall of Famer in the NFL.
But after visiting Happy Valley and knowing he could have an immediate impact on the team, Allen decided to become a Nittany Lion.
The immediate impact on the defense was just that. Allen became a starter midway through the season and was the third leading tackler on the team. His 58 tackles earned him a spot on the Big-Ten All-Freshman team.
His sophomore year was an anti-slump. Allen racked up 81 tackles and grew into the role of a vocal leader for the secondary.
This year, Allen has been elevated to another status on the defense, a true game changer.
After his historic performance against Minnesota, players began to return from injury and truly rattle offenses. The defense’s blossoming confidence adds to it’s strength.
Having the defensive line get pressure on the quarterback helps the secondary tremendously.
“It makes it very easier,” Allen told GoPSUsports.com. “If you can have defensive tackles and defensive ends get to the quarterback really fast, that makes the secondary just not have to cover that long.”
Penn State is currently ranked No. 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings. The respect hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“We love all the talk about being ranked,” Allen said. “That's something special to us, but we are so focused on the next game that we don't really have our mind wrapped around it that much.”
Indiana’s passing game, which is far more capable than what the secondary saw against Iowa, will present a challenge for the Lions’ defense.
“We've seen that they are a fast-paced team,” Allen said. “They like to take their shots down the field. The quarterback is a nice, precise thrower. It's going to be a good test for the secondary to see if we can shut that down.”
If all goes well for the Nittany Lions, the chance at playing in the Rose Bowl will be a conceivable thought.
Allen would deserve a big petal of that rose.
Paddy Cotter is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To email him, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.